Beer Birthday: Pete Coors

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Today is the 70th birthday of Peter Hanson Coors (September 20, 1946- ). Pete Coors is the great-grandson of Adolph Coors, who founded Coors Brewing Co. in 1873. He has worked for his family’s brewery since 1971. After their merger with Molson in 2005, and then a joint venture with SABMiller in 2008, Pete is currently the chairman of MillerCoors and the Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors.

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Here’s his short bio from the MillerCoors website:

Pete joined Adolph Coors Company in 1971 where he held a number of executive and management positions. He previously served as chairman of the board of Adolph Coors Company from 2002 to 2005, and was chief executive officer from May 2000 to July 2002. He served as a director of Coors Brewing Company, the company’s US-based subsidiary, beginning in 1973. In 2002, he was named executive chairman, and was chief executive officer from 1992 to 2000. He has been a director of both US Bancorp and of Energy Corp. of America since 1996. Peter received his Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University and a Master degree in Business Administration from the University of Denver.

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And this is his Wikipedia entry:

Coors was born in Golden, Colorado. He is the great-grandson of Adolph Coors, the brewing entrepreneur, and the son of Holly Coors (née Edith Holland Hanson) and Joseph Coors. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy and then from Cornell University with a degree in engineering. A member of the Psi Upsilon Fraternity, Coors was elected to the Sphinx Head Society during his final year at Cornell. He also received his MBA from the University of Denver in 1970.

Coors has worked all of his life in various positions at his family’s Coors Brewing Company.

In 1993 Coors became vice chairman and CEO of the company, and in 2002 he was named Chairman of Coors Brewing Company and Adolph Coors Company. In 2004, Pete Coors “made $332,402 in salary and a $296,917 bonus as chairman of Adolph Coors. He also received 125,000 stock options with a potential value of $13 million,” according to the Rocky Mountain News. However, he stepped down temporarily from these positions in 2004 to run for the US Senate. After the 2005 merger with Molson, Coors became a Class A Director in the newly formed Molson Coors Brewing Company. In October 2006, he was appointed by the University of Colorado Hospital Board of Directors as chairman of the board for the new University of Colorado Hospital Foundation.

He has served on the boards of U.S. Bancorp, H. J. Heinz Company, HOBY (Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership) Colorado, and Energy Corp. of America. He is also involved in civic organizations such as the Denver Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the National Western Stock Show Association. He is also part of the ownership group of the Colorado Rockies. He is a member at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. In 1997, Coors was granted an Honorary Doctorate from Johnson & Wales University, where he is a trustee. He sits on the Board of Trustees of the American Enterprise Institute.

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Historic Beer Birthday: William K. “Bill” Coors

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Today is the birthday of William Kistler “Bill” Coors (August 11, 1916- ). Bill Coors was born in Golden, Colorado, and is the grandson of Adolph Coors, who founded the Coors Brewing Company in 1873. He worked for the family business all his life, and ran the brewery from 1961–2003.

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William K. Coors in 1982.

Here’s a short description of Coors from the Leadership Initiative of the Harvard Business School:

Under Coors’ leadership, the brewery underwent a period of massive growth. Though it was a regional brewery, it held the top market share in 10 of the 11 western states in which its product was distributed, becoming the 4th largest brewer in the United States in the mid-1970s. Despite several union confrontations and product boycotts as a result of Coors’ political opinions, Coors took the firm public and established a national presence for its products.

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And this is from the Academy of Achievement in Washington, D.C.:

From 1961 to 2003, William K. Coors served as Chairman of the Adolph Coors Company of Golden, Colorado. The grandson of brewery founder Adolph Coors, he joined the family firm in 1939, where he pioneered the development of the recyclable aluminum can. He assumed the chairmanship and presidency of the Coors Company in 1961, shortly after his older brother, Adolph Coors III, was murdered in a bungled kidnapping attempt. Rising above this senseless tragedy, William Coors led the company through an unprecedented period of expansion, one that ultimately transformed a little known local brewery into the nation’s third largest, a massive, vertically integrated business that included Coors Transportation, Coors Container (the largest single can plant in the world) and the Coors Food Products Company. He led the way in making the Coors Company energy self-sufficient, and expanded the company’s program of aluminum recycling, at one point recovering and recycling as much as 85 percent of its cans, while handling a third of the nation’s recycled aluminum. Even after retiring from the Board of Directors in 2003, he remained active in the company, working well into his 90s as a senior technical adviser.

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William Coors on March 12, 1976, by photographer Bill Johnson.

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The Adolph Coors Company Board of Directors posing together at the dedication of the new headhouse at the brewery in Golden, Col., on April 16, 1952. Three men are standing and three men are seated on top of the headhouse. Standing in back left to right are brothers, William K. Coors, Joseph Coors, and Adolph Coors III. Seated in front left to right are brothers Grover Coors, Herman Coors, and Adolph Coors II (from the Golden History Museum).

And here’s a short video about Bill Coors, from his induction into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame in 1996.

Historic Beer Birthday: Adolph Coors

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Today is the birthday of Adolph Coors (February 4, 1847-June 5, 1929) whose full name was Adolph Hermann Josef Coors, although it’s probable that the Coors surname was originally spelled Kuhrs, or something like that. Coors was born in what today is Germany, in the town of Barmen, part of Rhenish Prussia, or Rhineland. After being orphaned as a fifteen-year old boy, he continued the apprenticeship he’d begun earlier at the Wenker Brewery in Dortmund, and later on was a paid employee. When he was 21, he stowed aboard a ship in Hamburg and made his way to New York City, where he changed the family name to its present spelling. By spring he’d moved to Chicago, and shortly thereafter became a foreman of John Stenger’s brewery in nearby Napierville, where he worked for the next four years.

At the beginning of 1872, he resigned and headed west, to Denver, Colorado. Coors took a few odd jobs, and then he purchased a partnership in the bottling firm of John Staderman, buying out his partner later the same year, assuming control of the entire business. But it was the following year, on November 14, 1873, that the Coors empire really began. On that day, Adolph Coors, along with Denver confectioner Jacob Schueler, bought the Golden City Tannery, which had been abandoned, in Golden, Colorado, and transformed it into the Golden Brewery. “By February 1874 they were producing beer for sale. In 1880 Coors purchased Schueler’s interest, and the brewery was renamed Adolph Coors Golden Brewery.”

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And here’s a short biography from the Colorado Encyclopedia:

Adolph Coors (1847–1929) immigrated to the United States in 1868 after serving as a brewery apprentice in western Germany and then in the Kingdom of Prussia. After working in Chicago breweries, he moved to Colorado in 1872 and purchased a bottling company. He transformed it into the Coors Brewing Company and became one of Colorado’s wealthiest and most influential men during the early twentieth century.

After moving to Denver, Coors promptly bought into a bottling company and became the sole owner by the end of the year. In 1873 he started looking for a place to build a brewery with access to clean mountain water and found one at the abandoned Golden Tannery. He partnered with candy store owner and fellow German Jacob Scheuler to purchase the tannery and turned it into the Scheuler and Coors Brewing Company, one of the first breweries in the area. By 1874, even in the midst of economic crisis, the company was making 800 gallons of beer a day. Their beer was valued for its taste, consistency, and crispness.

Coors hired many German immigrants to run his beer factory, bottling plant, malt house, and icehouse. He invested heavily in new technology, such as metal bottle caps and increased automation. In 1879 he married Louisa Weber. The couple had six children – three daughters and three sons. That same year, he bought out Scheuler and became the sole owner of Coors Brewing. He allowed his workers to join the United Brewery Workmen of the United States and paid them well. The brewery famously provided free beer to its workers during breaks. By 1890, Coors was a millionaire, a US citizen, and a medal winner at the Chicago World’s Fair.

The movement to abolish alcohol began to gather momentum in the late nineteenth century. Coors correctly diversified his investments; beer may be recession-proof, but it would not weather Prohibition. In 1916, when Prohibition began in Colorado, Coors shifted his manufacturing from beer to milk products and porcelain. In 1933, with the repeal of Prohibition, Coors returned to his preferred product but continued to manufacture other goods.

Coors generally remained aloof from Denver high society, but he felt great kinship with his employees and identified with them as a craftsman. He instituted more breaks, better working conditions, and higher wages for his workers than did almost all other brewers. But Coors became disillusioned with his product in the early twentieth century, after pasteurization (the heating of beer to kill microbes) and mass marketing transformed the beer industry. Coors took his life in 1929 by jumping from his hotel balcony in Virginia Beach. In his will, he stipulated that his hotel bill be paid in its entirety; otherwise, he left no note and no reason for his action. Coors is remembered for his entrepreneurial spirit, his rags-to-riches immigrant story, and his dedication to the craft of brewing beer.

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A portrait of Adolph Coors by artist Bill Moomey

Coors was elected to the Colorado Business Hall of Fame in 1990, who produced a short film of his life for the induction ceremony:

And here’s an early postcard depicting the Coors Brewery in Golden, Colorado. It’s a remarkable place and you should definitely take the tour if you ever get near that part of the world.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Adolph Coors III

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Today is also the birthday of Adolph Coors III (January 12, 1916-February 9, 1960). He was Chairman of the Board of Coors Brewing Co. and the grandson of founder Adolph Coors.

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Adolph Coors III in the late 1950s.

Adolph Coors III also has a short Wikipedia page:

Coors was born on January 12, 1916, the son of Alice May (née Kistler; 1885-1970) and Adolph Coors II. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. Like most of his family, including brother Joseph Coors, Adolph graduated from Cornell University, where he was president of the Quill and Dagger society and a member of The Kappa Alpha Society. Coors was also a semi-professional baseball player.

On February 9, 1960, while on his way to work, he was murdered at the age of 44 in a foiled kidnapping attempt by escaped murderer Joseph Corbett, Jr. in Colorado. In September, the remains of Coors were found by hunters in a remote area around Pikes Peak. The subject of an international manhunt, Corbett was captured in Vancouver, British Columbia in October of that year.

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The Adolph Coors Company Board of Directors posing together at the dedication of the new headhouse at the brewery in Golden, Col., on April 16, 1952. Three men are standing and three men are seated on top of the headhouse. Standing in back left to right are brothers, William K. Coors, Joseph Coors, and Adolph Coors III. Seated in front left to right are brothers Grover Coors, Herman Coors, and Adolph Coors II (from the Golden History Museum).

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“Ad,” as he apparently was known, was “an avid skier” and “was inducted into the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1998.”

Skiing was a passion to “Ad”, as he is affectionately known, grandson of the founder of Coors Brewing Company. “Ad was an avid, enthusiastic and inexhaustible skier”, his brother Bill Coors remembers. “He was involved not only in the sport of skiing itself but active in its development as a major Colorado industry and in the promotion of Colorado as Ski Country, USA.” He imparted his love of the sport to his friends and family. A highly polished skier, he took every opportunity away from the brewery to hit the slopes on family vacations. “He wanted to help those he really cared about to gain a taste of the sport he loved,” recalls Cecily Garnsey, Coors’ daughter. Ad was instrumental in developing modern skiing in Colorado. He channeled his love and his resources toward establishing quality ski resorts in Colorado. He helped to found the Aspen Ski Corporation in 1946, and served on the board of directors until his tragic death on February 9, 1960. He was present at the opening of Sun Valley, became one of the earliest members of the Arlberg Ski Club at Winter Park in 1938, and was becoming involved with the development of Vail at the time of his death. Ad also helped to establish ski racing in the state, by bringing the World Alpine Ski Championships to Aspen in 1950 (serving as Finance Chairman), the first time the event was held in the US. His daughter remembers, “He loved to ski. He loved Colorado. And he wanted to see a marriage of the two.” Ad was a skier for life, and he tirelessly contributed time, money and energy to help others understand and appreciate his love for the sport.

Historic Beer Birthday: Adolph Coors II

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Today is the birthday of Adolph Coors II, who was born Adolph Herman Joseph Coors, Jr. (January 12, 1884-June 28, 1970). He was the second president of Coors Brewing Co. and the son of founder Adolph Coors.

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Adolph Coors II in 1933.

Adolph Coors II has a short Wikipedia page:

Coors was a graduate of Cornell University, where he was a member of the Sphinx Head Society and the Beta Delta chapter of Beta Theta Pi. He became an accomplished chemist who worked in prominent positions in the family’s brewing and porcelain operations. He married Alice May Kistler (1885–1970) of Denver[3] on May 4, 1912, at the Kistler home by Rev. Van Arsdall. The couple had four children: Adolph Coors III (1915–1960) who was kidnapped and killed in 1960; William K. Coors (1916), Joseph Coors (1917–2003), and May Louise Coors (1923–2008).

Coors had his own brush with kidnapping in 1934. Paul Robert Lane, the former state Prohibition agent for Colorado, along with Clyde Culbertson, former investigator for the federal dry forces, along with two other men conspired to kidnap Adolph Jr. for a ransom of $50,000. The person delivering the money was to proceed to three different checkpoints to ensure no officers were tailing him and then split the money; Coors would be released somewhere around Colorado Springs. Denver police learned of the plot while working on an auto theft ring and Adolph Jr. volunteered to be kidnapped so the police could arrest the suspects. However, Lane was arrested on an auto theft charge and the conspiracy was foiled in advance.

Adolph Coors Jr. died in 1970 at the age of 86 years.

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The Adolph Coors Company Board of Directors posing together at the dedication of the new headhouse at the brewery in Golden, Col., on April 16, 1952. Three men are standing and three men are seated on top of the headhouse. Standing in back left to right are brothers, William K. Coors, Joseph Coors, and Adolph Coors III. Seated in front left to right are brothers Grover Coors, Herman Coors, and Adolph Coors II (from the Golden History Museum).

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A few years after his death in 1970, the Coors Foundation was established using “funds from the Adolph Coors, Jr. Trust. The foundation has awarded $135.3 million USD since 1975. It focuses its efforts generally within the state of Colorado. In 1993 it provided the endowment funds for the creation of the Castle Rock Foundation, which awards grants to causes throughout the United States.

Patent No. 4838419A: Keg Board

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Today in 1989, US Patent 4838419 A was issued, an invention of Ferdinand Weits, William F. Mekelburg and Marc R. Latour, assigned to the Adolph Coors Company, for their “Keg Board.” Here’s the Abstract:

A keg board for use in stacking beer kegs and the like in an upright orientation during storage and transporation of the kegs comprising: a generally planar surface for engaging and supporting a generally planar end surface of each keg; and pockets operatively associated with the planar surface for limiting relative lateral shifting movement of the kegs such as caused by shocks and vibration associated with transporting of the kegs.

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Patent No. 20080110854A1: Beverage Bottle With Gripping Feature

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Today in 2008, US Patent 20080110854 A1 was issued, an invention of Jason M. Kelly, assigned to Coors Brewing Company, for his “Beverage Bottle With Gripping Feature.” Here’s the Abstract:

A container is provided with integral gripping features. The gripping features are preferably provided in two opposing groups located on opposite sides of the mid-section of the container. The gripping features include a plurality of finger grips that are adapted to conform to the placement of the thumb and fingers when grasping the container. The finger grips are elliptical shaped cavities, and ridges extend between each of the adjacent finger grips.

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Beer In Ads #1114: Tastes Refreshing Naturally


Wednesday’s ad is for Coors, from 1970. This is from the time when Coors was still only sold in the Western states, and as a result enjoyed a certain cult status in the East. I remember they had a lot of these minimalist ads, beauty shots, showing simply the Rocky Mountains, a stream of Rocky Mountain Spring Water, and a glass of beer. BUt is it just me, or does that pilsner glass have some odd bumps on it?

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Beer In Film #19: Coors Light Party Train Crash

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Today’s beer video is from the humorists at the Onion, “America’s Finest News Source.” So rest assured that the breaking news from the Onion News Network about Hundreds Feared Dead In Coors Light Party Train Crash is just a spoof. Personally, I think the train crashed because Peyton Manning asked for a Bud Light after quarterbacking in the land of Coors.